“One thing that we can do to be a positive influence of change, is by bringing some knowledge and insight to people who aren’t First Nations in the community.” – Guide Group member
Skookum Surrey Guide groups are comprised of urban Indigenous people living in the City of Surrey who work collaboratively and respectfully to bring their diverse perspectives to the issues urban Indigenous people experience in Surrey. Their perspectives informs the advocacy that SUILC does.
Art-based community engagement and knowledge generation is an ongoing and reciprocal relationship. Participants are providing input and lived experience while also participating in group cultural activities. Guide group members use their voices, wisdom and gifts to guide the advocacy of SUILC alongside community stakeholders.
Our community engagement with Skookum Surrey Guide Groups lead into our Campfires that brings together the Guide Groups, city staff and invested people to hear urban Indigenous people share their experiences.
Campfires are an indication of honouring the community engagement that informs our research. Campfires have been central to Indigenous communities since time out of mind. We find comfort, sustenance, and spirit around a campfire. It is a sacred place that opens our hearts and minds to the people who sit with us in the circle around the fire.
Our campfires honour Coast Salish protocols and practices. We have been guided by Coast Salish leaders in carrying out witnessing, blanketing, praying, smudges, cedar brushing, storytelling of the land, and observed songs and dances that represent the treasures of local communities and families.
Grounding the campfires in Indigeneity has created a “safe container” for participants to discuss how to tackle traumatic systemic issues they have experienced. As one campfire participant noted, “culture is medicine.”
Guide Groups and Campfires were initially created through Skookum Lab. Skookum Lab was a social innovation lab developed to address Indigenous child and youth poverty in the City of Surrey. Skookum Lab came to an end in June 2020 at the Skookum Lab Sunset Celebration.
With the support of the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership committee, Skookum Surrey can continue the good work of making Surrey a great place to raise Indigenous children.